For the second year, Bandmates, Brothers and Friends will reunite in Waukon for another night of musical entertainment to benefit the Veterans Memorial Health Care Foundation. This year will also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Toe Tappers as part of the musical line-up. The event will again be held on Friday evening of Mother’s Day Weekend, May 10, from 6-11 pm. This year the event will be held at the Allamakee Fairgrounds Pavilion to allow for more room for sitting to enjoy the show and for dancing. Plans are also underway for additional food and beverage options to be available this year.
The Toe Tappers will take the stage first, at 6 pm, followed by two different sets of the 11 musicians who are once again reuniting for the night, forming Bandmates, Brothers and Friends (BBF). These musicians come from the four past local bands including Rising Sun, Horizon, Jackson Junction and Deep River. Many of the returning musicians are from Waukon including brothers Bill Withers, Jim Withers, John Withers, along with Gary Hesla, Bob Bechtel, Dave Dougherty, Brad Prestemon, Todd Pickett and Joel Anderson. They will be joined by Keel Clemmens and Jamey Lideen, longtime band members over the years.
“Joe Sweeney was at our event last year, and we ended up talking in the parking lot out back after the benefit. That’s where the idea of doing something together in 2024 was born. I’ll never forget it,” explains Bill Withers Jr., Event Coordinator. “There were many nights The Toe Tappers were playing in town the same time our guys were playing somewhere else in town, and it never occurred to us to try something together…until now.”
Last year marked 45 years that many of BBF’s original band members had first played in a band together. The event was overwhelmingly successful so this second event has been planned.
The Toe Tappers have been together for over 50 years, but due to COVID, never had the opportunity to celebrate that milestone, but will at this event.
“I started playing with Luigi and the Troubadours in 1965, which included Luigi Meyer and Lloyd Weber. A few years later, Cora Ostrander (piano) and Lloyd Weber (saxophone) and I started the Toe Tappers,” states Joe Sweeney. “When we first started, we didn’t know what to call ourselves. Cora explained that whenever she looked around, everyone was tapping their toes, so she suggested we should be called, ‘The Toe Tappers’ and it stuck for all these years.”
The Toe Tappers have had several members in the past 50+ years. “A few years after forming our band, Cora Ostrander moved to La Crosse so Howard Sorenson (guitar) from Waterville joined the band for 10 years. Gordy Tangen (guitar) was the next member who joined, playing with us for 35 years,” explains Joe. “Then in 1992, Lloyd Weber and his wife, Elaine, lost their lives in an airplane crash. Lyle Hanson also lost his brother, Carmen, who he had played with in the Carmen Hanson band for 35 years. So we asked Lyle to join us, playing his saxophone and guitar, and he is still with us today!”
Both bands played throughout the tri-state area, often playing numerous times per week. It was not uncommon that Waukon alone would have multiple dances in town on weekend nights.
Attendees will enjoy waltz’s, polkas, Scottish’s, 40’s music, as well as old and new country songs thanks to the Toe Tappers, and songs from the 50’s through the 90’s, both country and rock, thanks to Bandmates, Brothers and Friends as they reunite for this second year in a row.
“Over 50 years for The Toe Tappers, and over 45 for a number of our BBF guys. What an honor to share the night with them,” states Bill. “I hope everyone comes out to celebrate around a great cause!”
Free-will donations will be accepted at the door that night as well as on-line, to benefit the Veterans Memorial Hospital Health Care Foundation. More details will soon follow.